3 pullets taken. :( UPDATED 5/26. One Returned 5 days later! :)

redhen689

Songster
9 Years
Apr 2, 2010
411
48
176
SE PA
The past week or so, I started letting my 2 month-old chickens out in the late afternoon. I'd keep an eye on them periodically, and then lock them back up at dusk. All of my predator problems have happened at around 5 a.m, with a less secure coop.... so while I was a little worried, I really thought they'd be okay.
I was about to go out and put them in/lock them up and I heard a ruckus out there. I quickly put on some shoes, started yelling and ran back behind the house. I saw something moving in the brush near the shed, I heard some upset chickens. I did a quick head count and 4 were missing 3 pullets, and 1 cockerel. A few minutes later the roo showed up, I guess he had been hiding, but the pullets did not come back.
.
I looked and could not find them, or any sign of them for that matter. The shed is at the edge of the woods and I'm starting to think that the predator has taken up residence under it.
Two of the hens that were taken were maran breed, my only ones. Odd, thing is they took only the 3 darkest colored birds. I have a variety of mixed breeds.
I think I'll be setting that trap again soon! (I caught a couple of 'coons last fall.) Maybe we should get another dog. I never had problems like this when we had dogs.

I know maybe I should just give up keeping chickens, but for over 10 years I never had problems like this. This just started last summer.
 
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Achickenwrangler#1

Songster
8 Years
Aug 7, 2011
2,431
106
183
west virginia
Don't give up on chickens!!! Just find out who/how the predator is getting in and replace your hens, (marens huh, sorry) or get a dog. I made the mistake of opening the coop before I let the dogs out and lost a young pullet, she only had a patch of feathers torn off the neck area, no broken skin, I guess the neighbors dog who hunts mice and grubs, very old dog that prob couldn't break the skin, neighbor said he killed some of his chickens, so, now he's on my list....should have stuck to mice and moles....
 

redhen689

Songster
9 Years
Apr 2, 2010
411
48
176
SE PA
My new coop is secure, but doesn't have a run yet. This happened while they were out in the yard.
For 11 years I let the chcikens run loose on our property without problems with predators.
The raccoons have only been attacking in the early morning hours, while the chickens were on their roosts in my old coop starting less than a year ago, before that I never had a problem.
I'm not currently using the old coop, because it wasn't secure, and would be nearly impossible to secure.
I really want to eliminate the 'coons, but I guess that might be easier said than done.
 

Sjisty

Scribe of Brahmalot
10 Years
May 18, 2009
4,252
337
311
Brooksville
I wonder if maybe you have a hawk checking out the chicken buffet, too. We have one that sits on the power pole on the street behind us and waits for his meal to come out into the open. We haven't been able to free-range our young chickens for a while because of him. He doesn't go after the big chickens, too much bother, I guess.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
25,437
15,025
777
Southeast Louisiana
Yeah, my parents never locked up their chickens and they lived in the country where you would think predators would be a huge problem. We would go years between predators, but eventually a fox or dog would find them and have to be dealt with.

With you missing three like that at one time, I'd suspect a dog or coyote. A fox would normally take one at a time and not make a lot of fuss, not take three at the same time, though with them that young and small, who knows. Predators don't always follow the rule book, especially with smaller young chickens. It's possible that something that would normally eat part of them there and make a mess or just take one took them back to its babies for them to eat.

Definitely set your trap, but identifying what it was is important so you know how to bait the trap. Good luck!!!
 

redhen689

Songster
9 Years
Apr 2, 2010
411
48
176
SE PA
I know I have had raccoons (I've trapped 2 in the past) and I have heard a fox one evening last fall.
I think the pullets had wandered over by the shed where I think the predator(s) live.
I think more than one may have attacked at the same time, but they wouldn't have had to go far to get back under the shed.
I did find a few feathers from one of the chicks at the base of the shed.
I would be easy for a raccoon or fox to get in and out of the space under there, so I believe there were a few working together or one that quickly grabbed them one at a time carrying them back and the coming back out for a repeat attack. It could be that one or two of the chicks hid in the brush there and I didn't see them and they were taken later.

What I'd like to do, is sit out there with a gun, and shoot at whatever it is, but I've never shot at anything but a target before, so I don't know how well I'd actually do.
My otehr thought is to get a game camera up out there to keep and eye on things..
 

redhen689

Songster
9 Years
Apr 2, 2010
411
48
176
SE PA
I am still in shock. One of the pullets that disappeared 5 days ago is back! I've never had anything dissappear for more than a few hours show up again.
I haven't caught anything in the trap yet. I think the trap makes the predator nervous, so they are staying away.
 

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